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Extra care places approved

SHETLAND Islands Council is moving ahead with plans to spend £14 million to provide around 60 new care places in Lerwick by 2015.

On Thursday afternoon councillors expressed alarm that the plan would cost an additional £1.1 million in running costs per year.

Officials will now embark on the detailed design work to provide up to 14 additional places at Taing House and Edward Thomason House; build a new dementia centre for 20 people plus 10 additional care places on a green field site; and also build a new care centre on the site of the old library at King Harald Street, providing 18 places.

However before any building work can commence, officials have to identify savings within the council’s revenue budget to cover the running cost of every individual project.

There were some calls for the council to lobby central government to come up with additional funds since providing high quality care places is not a statutory requirement for the local authority.

Councillor Gary Robinson said he wasn’t sure how the SIC could afford this since there was no commitment that savings made in the education budget could be used to help finance social care.

He said the council was even more cash strapped than was initially thought. “Yes, it is very much needed, but there is a growing crisis in terms of funding. The government needs to help fund this,” he said.

Councillors also decided to change their policy on the maximum number of beds in a care centre.

Up until now the number was restricted to 20 to allow for a homely atmosphere, but in order to allow economies of scale this number can now be higher.